New Chairwoman for Nashville School Board Brings Dissension

Sharon Gentry

By a 5-4 vote, and not without controversy, Metro Nashville Public School Board members elected a new chair, Sharon Gentry.

But one of the four board members who voted against Gentry, Fran Bush, told The Tennessee Star she had good reasons.

“With my research, with just her history, I felt we need a chairman a lot stronger,” Bush said.

“My preference would have been Amy Frogge because she has been on the board a long time, and she has major experience in leadership and she understands and follows policy.”

As other media outlets have reported, much of the strife on the board now revolves around Director of Schools Shawn Joseph and whether board members do a good enough job holding him accountable.

The Tennessean quoted Board Member Jill Speering as saying she didn’t think Gentry capable of doing that.

Board Member Anna Shepherd, who cast her vote for Gentry, told The Star it was a process of elimination.

“I didn’t think either Amy (Frogge) or Jill (Speering) could lead the board in any kind of rational semblance. The fallback was Sharon,” Shepherd said.

Board Member Christiane Buggs, meanwhile, told The Star she also voted for Gentry.

Bush, though, said previous board members rubber-stamped Joseph on everything he wanted and that wasn’t a good thing.

“Buggs’ priorities are to support Joseph on everything,” Bush said.

“Our priority is not giving Shawn Joseph everything he wants.”

Gentry was previously board chair in 2016.

None of the other board members returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment.

Board members Will Pinkston and Gini Pupo-Walker also voted for Gentry.

Speering said Gentry’s time as board chair came with numerous controversies, according to The Tennessean.

“She especially questioned whether Gentry will hold Director of Schools Shawn Joseph accountable, which could signal how this board begins to approach Joseph as mounting issues will need to be addressed, including lawsuits and pending audits,” the paper reported.

“The Tennessee State Board of Education is also reviewing whether Joseph should have reported a number of teacher discipline cases in the 2017-18 school year. Only one was reported by Joseph to the state board.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]








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  1. […] Pinkston’s letter addressed to Dr. Sharon Gentry, Chair of the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education dated March 25, whom Pinkston praised, was not voted into the position as Chair without dissension, The Tennessee Star reported. […]